- May 6, 2023
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: GOA CARES, SPIRIT OF GOA
Clean & Green Goa
Goans will often tell you, while reminiscing about their childhood and memories of exploring Goa, about the pristine and diverse landscapes that today many visiting Goa know little of. A birds’ eye view of Goa reveals the contiguous forests of the Western Ghats high up in the hills along the eastern boundaries of the small State, the numerous fresh water streams springing from these forests to become rivers that flow down to the white coasts along the western edge emptying into the sea. Along the rivers, are the green ribbons of lush mangroves and interspersed beyond the banks are the agrarian plains with endless lines of coconut trees. Goa also has many lakes, mostly manmade that were built to harvest rain water and provide water for agriculture.
The Khazans in Goa are unique man made systems that are more than 3000 years old, built by indigenous communities that utilised the flood plains along Goa’s rivers to make embankments with shallow troughs and channels in between to facilitate the ingress of tidal waters. These sustain pisciculture, salt harvesting, fishing and growing paddy. The fish catch at the sluice gates is considered the best by the locals. The solar salt is available in local markets and because of its rich mineral content, is considered an important home remedy for sore throat and cough.
There are many fresh water lakes in Goa and among the manmade ones, Carambolim is a birding hotspot. Others like the Maina lake at Handi Khuris Curtorim, Macazana, Raidoll, KumTolle, MaimTollem, Bondvoll, Toyaar, etc besides having a high number of birds also help villagers to grow rice crops in two cycles besides the seasonal vegetables in the lower plains of the village.
Riverine mangroves are unique ecosystems found along the 11 rivers of Goa. These form a strong defence against torrential rains, strong winds and high tidal waves. Their pyramidal roots form safe spaces for nearly 80 percent of ocean fish to lay their eggs here and be nurtured before they return to the sea as adults. Mangroves help in sequestering nearly 80% of atmospheric carbon. There are unique species of flora and fauna found in mangroves- mud skippers (fish that can stay out of water), fiddler crabs (with one large claw), mud lobsters with small turret like homes made of mud, flying fox (bat with a fox like face), smooth coated otters, marsh crocodile, jackal, lesser adjutant stork (the largest stork), seven species of kingfishers and more.
Goa’s protected forests contiguous with the Western Ghats range that stretches across the 6 neighbouring states are biodiverse with high endemism and listed as one of the 18 biodiversity hotspots in the World. Older than the great Himalayan range, it boasts of more than 5000 plant species, 475 plus bird species, around 175 amphibians, 157 reptiles, 219 fish species. A trek into the forests usually rewards one with sightings of Indian bison/Gaur, spotted deer, black panther, tiger scat, wild dogs, fishing owl and some unique prehistoric habitats like the myristica swamps.
Many responsible tourism entities are conducting walks and tours to help tourists and locals understand the history, culture, tradition, architecture and the green assets of Goa. Mangrove regeneration has been taken up as a pilot project and as a joint exercise by the State Forest Department along with volunteers, activists and NGOs working in the space of conservation, environment protection and outdoor learning. Professionals like architects, engineers and contractors are already making a shift from the unsustainable use of cement concrete to reviving mud as the most sustainable building material that can be used in high density urban areas as well as in rural hamlets where new investors from larger cities are making Goa their home.
Solar energy is gaining popularity in Goa with many homeowners, industrial units and gated communities opting for energy efficient and off grid solutions. Many enterprises are engaged in installing biodigesters, bio gas systems as zero pollution solutions in lieu of the typical septic tank and soak pit models. Panjim is the only city that popularised the installation of composting stations across the city. These were then adopted in gated colonies too and now most citizens practice composting kitchen waste. This is the reason why organic home gardening, terrace farming has also gained popularity.
The Konkan fruit fest and local fests organised by the Botanical Society of Goa, Goencho Festakar along with key departments of the Goa government, are the reason citizens and tourists are aware about the bounty of agrarian produce in Goa and the importance of many of these indigenous vegetables, fruits, millets and grains!
The future of world will be promising only if we all commit to play our part, however small it may be. Each of us can make that difference to help protect the green world of yore, to conserve what is pristine and to sustain new development in a sensitive, conscientious and inclusive way. After all every drop makes an ocean. And we all care, don’t we?